Preparation Before Treatment
Plan your first visit
Your first visit to the radiation therapy center is a consultation with the radiation oncology nurse and the radiation oncologist. Plan to be at the center for about two hours. This is an important visit to review your medical history, medications, and focus on your diagnosis and treatment needs. Your physician will explain your diagnosis and treatment options in detail. You will not receive a radiation treatment on this day. You may start the radiation therapy planning process, or you may be asked to return on another day.
What to bring to your first visit
A family member or friend if possible. It is often helpful to bring someone who can help take notes and help recall details about your medical history.
A list of your medications with the dose and frequency or bring the actual pill bottles with you
Your health insurance card(s) and identification
A list of questions for your physician or nurse
Discs containing the images for CT scans, PET scans, and/or MRIs relevant to your diagnosis
Managing your time
If radiation therapy is indicated in your treatment, you will undergo a special type of CT scan called a simulation. You should plan approximately one hour for this appointment. During simulation, you will be placed in the same position as your treatment, possibly using supports that hold your body in the specific position. The therapists will place special markings on your skin which allow you to be properly aligned for treatment every day. It is important that these markings are not washed off the skin. In “simulating” your treatment, the team can identify any problems with your set-up beforehand and make necessary changes. CT images are obtained during simulation. Once these images are obtained, treatment planning begins. The doctor will outline the area to treat on these images, as well as other important tissues in the treatment field. This is called contouring. The medical physicist and medical dosimetrist use these contoured images to design your treatment specifically to you. Simulation takes approximately one hour.
Transportation and childcare
Radiation therapy often involves daily visits to the center for a period of several weeks. Some prior arrangements you will want to make include transportation and childcare. Most patients are able to drive themselves to and from their treatments. Ask your physician if you may experience side effects or require medications that necessitate a driver.